New Competition From the Take-Out Counter

They say a little competition never hurt anyone, but the competition from supermarkets for breakfast and lunch crowds is cause for concern for some restaurateurs. It turns out that in addition to competing with each other, fast casual places throughout the country now have to compete with fresh breakfast and lunch available as a take-out option at many local supermarkets.

Are Supermarkets Really a Threat?

While these options will never replace the experience of sitting down for a fine dining experience while meeting a client, they are creating problems for restaurants that rely on the “grab a quick lunch and head back to the office” crowd.

In the NPD Group Restaurant Analyst Bonnie Riggs is warning in a recent report that restaurateurs will need to “take notice” of this new form of competition if they are to continue to survive and thrive. A big part of the problem, she explains, has been the recent recession.

Restaurants and the Recession

Many consumers became more price conscious and realized that eating lunch from the take-out counter at their desks was a cheaper option than hitting up a real restaurant.  And the threat isn’t just from major supermarkets, says industry commentator Peter Romeo.

According to Romeo, even the small corner grocery has started getting in on the act, offering fresh, ready-to-eat food for workers to take back to the office.  He also says that the stigma that once surrounded those who brought lunch in from the take -ut counter has started to dissipate as the quality of the food has gotten better and better.

How Restaurants can Fight Back Against Supermarket Take-Out Meals

While the new competition can make life difficult for some restaurants, restaurateurs are finding ways to compete effectively. The problem doesn’t really have an effect on higher end white tablecloth restaurants or fast food establishments.  “Fast casual,” however, has come under a bit of stress.

Fast casual restaurants are competing effectively against this new phenomenon by stressing what it is they do best – they offer customers more than just food. They offer an experience, a chance to get out and forget the office for a few minutes during their lunch break. This is invaluable to many workers–something that no supermarket has yet to find a way to compete with.

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